Diospyros whyteana is found through most of South Africa and is a multi-functional tree that can be planted in a smaller or large garden. Growing to a height of approximately 5 m in an urban setting, the tree can reach up to 12 m in the wild.
The attractive Bladder-nut is an evergreen shrub or small multi-stemmed tree which branches low down and forms a dense, round to pyramidal crown. The shape of the tree and the colour of the leaves are reminiscent of a Holly tree. Dark green, glossy foliage contrasts beautifully with the smooth, blackish grey bark.
During spring, fragrant creamy flowers adorn the tree and this is followed by fleshy berries that turn scarlet when ripe in summer. The berries are enclosed in bladder-like capsules which dry to a reddish brown colour and can remain on the tree for many months.
Frost hardy and drought resistant, the Diospyros whyteana grows well in sun or in shade. The tree should be protected from frost when young. Diospyros is fairly slow growing, and takes kindly to clipping which makes it a good specimen for hedging or as a screening tree. In addition, the tree is an excellent bonsai subject.
With its neat growth habit and non-invasive root system, the Bladder-nut is a good container plant that will thrive in a shady courtyard. This ornamental tree will attract insects and birds all year round while providing colour and texture to your garden.